Monday, January 21, 2008

Years to Days

Dr J Craig Venter – A DNA-Driven World (video)

For the past 15 years at ever faster rates we have been digitising biology. By that I mean going from the analog world of biology through DNA sequencing into the digital world of the computer. I also refer to this as reading the genetic code. The human genome is perhaps the best example of digitising biology. Our computer databases are growing faster per day then during the first 10 years of DNA sequencing. The databases have been filling even faster with the results of our global ocean sequencing project. As a result we have now over 10 million genes in the public databases, the majority of which have been contributed by my teams.

Instead of evolution happening only due to random mutations that survived selective pressure, we can see how by adding chromosomes to or exchanged between species, that thousands of changes could happen in an instant.

Now they can happen not just by random chance but by deliberate human design and selection. Human thought and design and specific selection is now replacing Darwinian evolution.

The biggest question in my mind is the one of scale. Last year we consumed more than 83 million barrels of oil per day or 30 billion barrels during the year. In addition we used over 3 billion tons of coal. These are mind boggling numbers and the only way that I can see replacing oil and coal is through a widely distributed system. If there were one million bio-refineries around the globe each one would still need to produce 17,000 liters per day.

He also talks about the rise of fundamentalism, that 25% of people in the US don't know that the Earth revolves around the Sun, half think people and dinosaurs co-existed and that 58% don't know how to calculate a 10% tip.
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